Sniff & Greet: After the pandemic, dogs and humans may need to socialize again


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While we are through the pandemic, you may be aware of the social changes happening to you. Dogs have similar social needs, with negative repercussions if those needs are not met adequately and often enough.

“Without proper socialization, dogs can become anxious and afraid of the unknown,” said Amy Powell, certified dog trainer and owner of DoggieU, LLC.

Just as we learn through socialization, “dogs learn the skills they need: communication, hunting, and cooperative play with other dogs,” she said.

Much like when we started looking disheveled and wearing pajamas in public because no one would recognize us under our masks, dogs forget their manners without routine interactions. You need to keep in touch with people, cats, and other dogs to make sure they don’t develop bad behavior.

Socializing also helps dogs make friends, gain good mental health, confidence, and self-esteem. And it helps them to feel more comfortable in unfamiliar situations, such as meeting new people and visiting new places. Dogs, Powell said, are all at different stages in their journey.

“Don’t assume it’s okay to approach a dog,” she said. “Some dogs are not friendly.”

Where to make contacts

It helps to meet on neutral territory.

Walking your dog in public places will make the puppy more comfortable. Try taking your dog to a training class, structured dog walk, or a popular public walkway. Expose your dog to a variety of stimuli, people, clothing, different ways of being petted or handled, environments, ground conditions, environments, cats, and other dogs. Stationary pet stores are a social gathering place, as are well-supervised and contained dog parks. Ask your veterinarian for recommendations on dog play appointments, trainers, and other social resources.

Preparation for socializing

Before you start socializing, set your expectations on the level. Just as humans don’t like all humans or harmonize with them, not all dogs will network personalities either. Older dogs sometimes collide with much younger dogs. Men tend to be competitive when brought together. Women tend to get territorial together and fight with one another.

One of your goals in socializing your dog is to make the presence of other dogs a normal thing. There’s nothing to see here, puppy, and nothing to get upset about. Move on.

How to socialize

Make sure your dog is calm and behaving politely. You should keep your body language calm and assertive, but be careful in case you have to pull your dog back. Your dog will orientate itself on your behavior and follow your lead.

  1. If you see another dog owner with their dog on a leash, ask them, “Can we say ‘hello’?”
  2. If the answer is no, respect that and move on. If the answer is yes, instruct your dog, “Say hello”.
  3. Let the dogs sniff each other for just a few seconds.
  4. Before the leashes get tangled, tell your dog, “Don’t do it. Let’s go.”
  5. Guide your dog away from the other dog.
  6. If your dog has shown good manners, give plenty of praise and a treat. If something goes wrong, don’t praise or shout. If you try again you won’t want your dog to have a negative association with socializing. Praise the behavior you want to repeat and withhold praise for the behavior you don’t want.

If the first meet-and-greet didn’t go well, don’t be discouraged. Much like the people coming out of their solo caves, we’ve all gotten a little bit worse and we’re all relearning some social skills. But unlike us, dogs don’t mask or fake their feelings in social situations.

You will want to repeat the introduction with lots of dogs to build positive associations.

“Let the dogs solve their own problems for the five seconds they’re together,” Powell said. “If they seem to like each other, you can let them play longer next time.”

If any of the dogs show negative body language, such as For example, a growling lip, bared teeth, a low growl, a stare, or the hair on the back of the neck, then the interaction was at least brief. If a dog lies on its back without wagging its tail, that doesn’t mean it wants a stomach rub. It means: “Back!”

“Representations of aggression have subliminal emotions such as fear or fear. It is an attempt for the dog to control the situation, ”Powell said. “Aggression and fear are common when dogs haven’t been around other dogs enough.”

If your dog has known issues, try dating only one dog and repeat the above process often. As the interactions improve, you can gradually increase the amount of time they spend together.

“Ideally, you want to socialize your dog at least twice a week and more often if possible,” said Powell. “Make socialization a part of your dog’s routine.”

As a general rule, all adult dogs with one exception are socialized. In rare cases, you can have a dog that is dominantly aggressive. According to Powell, this type of dog is disinterested in social interaction, only interested in overwhelming, and unwilling to please. An animal behaviorist would have to formally diagnose this personality type.

Puppies are only safe to socialize when they receive their second kennel cough vaccination (sounds familiar?) From their vets.

In all other dogs, routine socialization builds and maintains a good temper. Once your dog gets to the point of consistently calm and comfortable around people, other dogs, and even cats, your dog is well socialized. You can assume that your dog will respond to stimuli in a healthy and appropriate manner. And because your dog takes your cues, so will you.

More information is available at www.doggieullc.net.

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